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The Health Benefits of Coloring Books for Adults

Updated on October 11, 2016
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Sadie teaches speaking and leadership skills to women who want to have a better relationship with others and with themselves.

Adult coloring books have taken the book world by storm. They are now among some of the most popular books online and in print. Go online and search adult coloring pages and you’ll find hundreds of sites with free downloadable images to print and color in. Learn more about some of the reasons people can’t get enough of coloring books for adults.

Coloring books aren't just for kids anymore!

A favorite pastime of children around the world, coloring books are now popular with adults looking to unwind after a busy day.
A favorite pastime of children around the world, coloring books are now popular with adults looking to unwind after a busy day.
Coloring pages from Stained Glass Wonders Coloring Book by Grace Sure.
Coloring pages from Stained Glass Wonders Coloring Book by Grace Sure. | Source
Adult Coloring Book - Stained Glass Wonders Coloring
Adult Coloring Book - Stained Glass Wonders Coloring

I bought this coloring book for myself and have enjoyed using it while I listen to audiobooks. I've finished three novels while coloring the gorgeous pages in this book.


Millions of adults around the world are turning to a childhood pastime---coloring books— to reduce stress and unwind after a long day. In fact, Coloring books are so popular with adults that there is a shortage on pencil crayons, according to an online article in The Telegraph, there’s a current shortage of pencil crayons. In order to keep up with the coloring book craze, Faber-Castell, the world’s largest pencil crayon maker, has had to add extra shifts to meet the demand for colored pencils. In Canada, four of the top 10 best-selling books in the first few months of 2016 coloring books for adults.

Check out some of the health benefits of playing with coloring books for adults.

Coloring books for adults reduce stress. To sit down with a coloring book doesn’t require much planning. Sharpen your pencil crayons, choose a design that appeals to your from your favorite coloring book or printable coloring pages website, and just start at it. There are no complicated instructions to read, no rules to follow, no right way or wrong way to fill in your chosen design. Some people like to listen to soothing music while they color. Others catch up on their reading by putting on a pair of headphones and enjoying a good audiobook while they work.

Working away on a design in a coloring book can reduce stress because your mind is immersed in a simple task that doesn’t require too much mental effort but that does require focus. Your attention shifts from the things you’ve been worrying about all day to the lines and shapes in front of you--whether you choose to stay inside the lines or color outside of them.

Coloring books also impart a sense of accomplishment. As you work on your design, filling it in, bit by bit, you transform a black and white design into a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Many people use adult coloring books as a form of meditation. The more detailed the drawings are in the coloring books, the more ‘in the moment’ you become as you focus your attention to tiny patterns and fine lines and shapes. Many of the most popular coloring books are the ones that feature pictures of mandalas--circular images that have been used for hundreds of years for mediation and spiritual enlightenment.

Left brain, meet right brain. Coloring connects the two hemispheres of your brain. The logical left side of your brain keeps you drawing within the lines while the creative right-side of your brain chooses which colors to use. Coloring gives you the benefit of stimulating your entire brain but in a way that feels fun, not tiring.

Coloring as an adult helps strengthen your fine motor skills. Coloring activates parts of the cerebral cortex that deal with hand eye-coordination.

While there are indeed many positive aspects to working in a coloring books, as with all things in life, moderation is key. Coloring books can be quite addictive and it’s easy to lose yourself in the process. But make sure that you get up at least every 30 minutes to stretch your fingers, arms, and legs. Avoid neck and eye-strain by taking your eyes off your work, moving your neck, and fixing your gaze on focal points further away from your coloring page. Stay hydrated by sipping water as you work. If you like to snack while you color, be mindful of what you are eating and portion your snacks rather than munching mindlessly out of the cracker and cookie packages.

What's your favorite medium for adult coloring books?

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Johanna Basford, the illustrator who created the best-selling coloring book, The Enchanted Garden, has her own YouTube Channel where she offers inspiring tips and tricks to help make your coloring book journey magical.

Try making your own coloring pages. If you haven't yet bought yourself a coloring book for adults or you want to try out some never-before seen designs, go ahead and make your own coloring page. All you need is a piece of light-weight paper or vellum, a magazine or book, a pencil, and a black marker.

  • Choose an image--it can be a photograph or illustration--that you like and lay it out on a flat surface. Landscapes, flowers, food, and animals make great content for your own coloring page.
  • If you are using an old magazine that you plant to recycle, tear the page out and lay it on a flat surface. For books and magazines that you can't pull apart, try to lay them as flat as you can without destroying the binding.
  • Lay a piece of vellum or lightweight paper over the image and trace the outline of the object or scene that you want to re-create with a sharp pencil. Go slowly so that you don't tear the delicate paper. (Bonus: The act of tracing the image is in itself can be very relaxing and calming if you move smoothly.
  • Once your coloring page design is outlined in pencil, separate the vellum and the image underneath and go over the pencil tracing with a black permanent marker. You'll want to make sure that you use a permanent marker if you plan to color your page in with ink markers because the moisture in the pens will cause non-permanent ink to smudge and bleed.
  • When the black ink is dry on your image, you're ready to start coloring to your hearts content!

Note: It's OK to trace a commercial image for your own personal use as a coloring page, but selling your drawing or publishing it without giving credit to your image source may be considered copyright infringement.

If you just want to experiment with color, draw your own free-form design by hand with a black marker and then fill in the spaces.
If you just want to experiment with color, draw your own free-form design by hand with a black marker and then fill in the spaces. | Source

© 2016 Sadie Holloway


Submit a Comment

  • Room of My Own profile image

    Sadie Holloway 14 months ago

    I agree, Happymommy2520! I find that coloring allows me to let my mind 'de-clutter' itself of restless thoughts.

  • Happymommy2520 profile image

    Amy 14 months ago from East Coast

    I loved the article. I also heard coloring can take the place of traditional meditation. Great read!

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 20 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    I'm amazed at how popular adult coloring books are becoming. Thanks for sharing the instructions for making our own pages to color. I'm very tempted to try the activity!